Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Scariest videogame moment

Joining the debate (here, here and here), I think the list should include the Nightmare level in Max Payne (here's the link to a YouTube video that didn't support embedding, in case you don't remember it / haven't played it).

Friday, October 26, 2007

Poll analysis - Gaming hours per week

We get less and less votes (maybe qualitative is the way to go - this time we've had an extensive individual report), but our poll results seem to indicate a strong niche of busy gamers (as does the website

Myself, I would like to play daily gaming sessions - meaningful ones - that take as long as it took me to write this post.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Does game design practice improves your fairness?

Bateman's post on Justice and subsequent comments reminded me of how I often wonder if the contact with game design can help us to improve our sense of fairness. After all, it's also about balancing asymetrical sides and giving fair conditions to players, taking in consideration several factors involved - player skills, difficulty level, etc.

A pratical example: Teachers might find better ways to test their students, for instance, considering their ability (and willingness) to improve their work after initial correction and evaluation.

After all, from a game design perspective, fairness is always necessary to avoid frustration from the player - and that includes giving them less or more than needed.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Poll - How many hours per week do you play videogames?

(Late) weekly poll (you might need to access the original post in order to access the flash poll). Still on "too busy" mode.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Poll analysis - Wii Flash Games

We haven't got a significative number of votes to really judge the state of Wii Flash games market, but I wonder (and poll results might support this):

  • Aren't flash wii games a reallity in terms of commercial success, of even as an alternative field for creative games?

  • Is it possible that they become so?

  • Episodic games - a key to succesfull flash wii games?

  • Are there more potential FWG developers than players out there?

  • Is there any company working on 3D-enabled wii compatible game devkit? I know Unity3D should work in the near future, but are there any PCs alternative? (Unity3D is just for Macs).
  • Thursday, October 18, 2007

    Sitcom-esque episodic game

    I have just found this link on the comments section for an interesting post by Bateman on EAs creative IP.

    From the article:

    PlayStation 3 is to get its first episodic game - and will be the first console to boast an original such type of game - thanks to the Super-Ego Games' upcoming Rat Race.

    A sitcom-styled narrative game set in an office, the game charges players with making through a day's work and is designed to give players the feel of playing an episode of a TV show.

    The game is being written and voiced by a cast and crew that have worked on the likes of South Park, Sex and the City, Ugly Betty, and the excellent Flight of the Conchords.
    “We believe that next-gen gamers seek new and innovative game titles, and Rat Race is just that,” said Greg Easley, co-founder and president of Super-Ego Games.

    “Rat Race represents a completely new take on the adventure genre, combining it with living, breathing characters and TV-quality comedy writing.

    The game delivers what action gamers want, but it also has funny, engaging dialogue, well-conceived characters and a comedic story that really hooks people.”

    The studio has been teasing and hyping Rat Race's existence for the past few months, saying it's narrative-driven approach to games will 'revitalise' the industry.

    In a statement released at the end of July, Bob Welch, CEO and EP at the studio said: “Our goal is to create games with engaging characters and storylines that appeal to mass audiences, while taking advantage of next-gen technology. We know, and our market research has proven, that both casual game players and traditional gamers are looking for something new, accessible and enjoyable.”

    It sounded really interesting, so I decided to look for their website. This is something from them:

    Super-Ego’s core engine has been optimized for games that run on PCs and next-generation consoles. The engine is ideal for titles that share the following features:

    • Personality Simulator: Creates motivations, idiosyncrasies, and interests that drive behavior for all in-game characters.

    • Conversation Creator: Delivers real-time dialogue with lifelike timing, consistent with character personalities; dynamic conversations generated on the fly based on character actions and needs.

    • Listening System: Makes navigating a world in which many characters converse easy and pleasurable for the player.

    • Scene Scripting System: Allows for TV- or film-style cinematography and easy creation of high-quality cutscenes.

    • Expression System: Drives lip synching and appropriate facial expressions for thousands of lines of dialogue.

    • Information Inventory System: Allows player to gather information and develop tactical knowledge by overhearing conversations, examining in-world objects, and asking questions.

    • Animation Engine: Brings characters to life with complex, life-like animation sets; ensures that animations are rarely repeated.

    • Script Creator: Moves from screenplays to flowcharts to non-linear game scripts that recreate feel of the original entertainment franchise; allows for the simulation of myriad TV, movie, and book properties.

    • Small Download Footprint: Allows for rapid downloads of files for direct digital sales to consumers.

    • Action System: Allow for integration of diverse gameplay modules: stealth, chase/race, puzzles, shooting, and fighting.

    It sounds amazing, but I really don't know anything about actual gameplay and mechanics (keybords + joystick) or business models (monthly fee?). Still, I think it would be great if a product like this actually succeeded.

    Tuesday, October 16, 2007

    Poll - Wii Flash Games

    Weekly poll (you might need to access the original post in order to access the flash poll). I'm too busy to post anything serious, but there are so many visitors looking for Flash Wii Games that I have to ask something about it.

    Wii Flash webgames...

    Thursday, October 11, 2007

    Poll analysis - Visual styles

    As I write, those are the numbers for our latest poll:

    The visual styles of your favourite games are...

  • 3D Photorealistic (1 votes)
  • 3D Cartoony (3 votes)
  • 3D Stylized (something between cartoon and photorealistic) (6 votes)
  • 2D Photorealistic (0 votes)
  • 2D Cartoony (4 votes)
  • 2D Stylized (6 votes)
  • other (0 votes)


    I wonder if this preference doesn´t reflect the current state of gameplay and game themes much more than game graphic capabilities. I think it was Chris Crawford who, in his book, advised designers to downgrade graphics in case gameplay didn´t match its level of realism. I could be wrong, though. In fact, games that achieve for realistic, sophisticated gameplay, such as Façade, often use stylized graphics paradoxally reinforcing the game´s verosilitude.

    And of course, there is that Uncanny Valley issue, when photorealistic characters look repulsive.
  • Wednesday, October 10, 2007

    Eliza and direct text input in games

    Once a tutor of mine wondered why there weren´t more experimentations with direct text input in games (that was before Façade, I believe), and why so few games tried to develop something like Eliza. I guess that´s because graphics got all the attention in games. Would there be any other reasons?

    For you who don´t know what I´m talking about, here´s a description from Wikipedia:

    "ELIZA is a computer program by Joseph Weizenbaum, designed in 1966, which parodied a Rogerian therapist, largely by rephrasing many of the patient's statements as questions and posing them to the patient. Thus, for example, the response to "My head hurts" might be "Why do you say your head hurts?" The response to "My mother hates me" might be "Who else in your family hates you?" ELIZA was named after Eliza Doolittle, a working-class character in George Bernard Shaw's play Pygmalion, who is taught to speak with an upper class accent."

    For you who want to try it, here´s a web implementation.

    Tuesday, October 09, 2007

    Crossing borders

    Very busy weeks ahead, but must keep thinking about present and future projects.
    It´s a little bit strange that these short-to-medium-term plans do not include designing games (at least commercial ones) but other kinds of products that are, somehow, related to games. It could be a necessity (no real industry around where I live) but also a sign that video games, as a medium, are spreading their qualities across other fields. Fields where I can try to apply what I´ve learned from game design and culture.

    Monday, October 08, 2007

    Poll - Game visual styles

    Ok, our third poll (you might need to access the original post in order to access the flash poll). Nothing too elaborated, just something to keep us going. Again, you can choose as many options as you like.

    The visual styles of your favourite games are...

    Friday, October 05, 2007

    Poll analysis - games and art

    Ok, so I asked:

    "Which kinds of game-related art do you think are more interesting?"

    Results so far:

  • Art created within the game, for in-game use (think Spore) (3 votes)
  • Art created within the game, for external use (think The Movies, The Sims albuns) (1 votes)
  • Art created trhough hacking the game (think super mario cloud, nullpoint, etc) (1 votes)
  • Art created using the game engine (Machinima, etc.) (2 votes)
  • Art created using external tools (think all kinds of mods) (2 votes)
  • Art about games (fan fiction, paintings about games) (1 votes)
    Games are the work of art themselves (6 votes)
  • Other = "Stories created by players inside game worlds" (Corvus vote? :))

    Ok, 7 voters are not that much, but there is a point becoming clear to me (specially when I take out my own biased votes): players may want a game to serve as a creative tool, but they will always want it to be a game - not only a tool.
    Corvus makes a good point: it´s all about the world that is given to the player. If the atmosphere is right, there will be a good reason for players to join in the creative process. They usually want the setting, the look and feel, the plot, etc., so they can build something on top.
  • Wednesday, October 03, 2007

    Random thoughts for today

    Some time ago Gamasutra featured an article entitled Game Design Essentials: 20 Open World Games. It analyses 20 games designed around an open world, extracting design lessons from each one of them. The article is quite interesting. However, I really, really missed one omission: Elite is not on the list. Maybe the authors have had a good reason for that, but I think Elite should be on the top of the list when it comes to open worlds.

    Some (most?) of our CSS-less readers end up on this page looking for information on homebrew Wii games or Flash Wii games. Now, I don´t own a Wii, so I have no idea, but does anyone know if there´s any real appeal to this games? If you have a Wii, please let me know, do you play webgames on it?

    There are two recent games I would have loved to work on. They are Metaplace (I know I haven´t really seen it yet, but still...) and Jam Session (some of you might remember I´ve tried - not very successfully - to explore the DS as a musical instrument before).


    Jam Session

    I´ll be quite busy this month, so it´s not very likely that I will be able to update this website on Thursday (focus day), i.e. tomorrow. It´s a shame, but duty calls.

    Tuesday, October 02, 2007

    Art project

    Although I´m already commited to several jobs and tasks, I´m also developing an art project alongside a fine artist friend of mine. The idea is to add remote user participation to one of his previous works, or at least create an online version that can be interacted with (which doesn´t mean it will become a game, although it could be played, in a way).

    This week, as you can imagine from our yerterday´s poll, is sort of dedicated to games and art. I hope I can gather some opinions on how this relationship could work, and maybe apply any knowledge obtained from that discussion in the project.

    Other than that, I still have to finish a 3d video at work and prepare material for my other job. It seems that I´ll be quite busy during a week or two...

    Monday, October 01, 2007

    Games and Art question:

    Ok, now that we´ve briefly commented the results for our first poll, here´s the second one (you might need to access the original post in order to access the flash poll). This time, you can choose as many options as you like.

    Which kinds of game-related art do you think are more interesting?

    Results and comments by Friday. Join the discussion!
    Copyright, Chico Queiroz